Preparation is critical for your garden to survive the wilting effects of the Australian Summer. Summer means different things to different gardeners. Some parts of Australia bake in the harsh rays, while other parts are bashed with storms. But for all of us, summer brings common challenges, such as dividing time and effort between keeping our gardens in good shape, and enjoying them during the summer holidays. Below are some tips to help you try and achieve both.
Look out for budding plants
Do your flowering plants drop its buds and flowers? If your summertime flowering plants are suddenly losing buds and flowers this is often a consequence of the plants drying out, particularly when they are growing in containers. Mulch and water deeply once or twice weekly during hot, dry weather to limit this common and irritating problem
Help pots to stay moist
Potted plants, especially those in terracotta pots, are vulnerable to overheating. Lightly mulch and, where possible, position them out of hot sunshine. Remember that standing potted plants in saucers of water encourages root rot and mosquito breeding. Instead, stand them in saucers filled with sand, and keep the sand moist. This ensures roots stay cool and plants remain healthy. If potted plants dry out to the point where re-wetting is hard, soak them in a bucket of water for half an hour, then drain.
Water early to avoid Mildew
Water in the cool of the day. The best time is morning but, if you water in the afternoon, allow enough time for foliage to dry out before sunset. This reduces the risk of mildew and other fungi attacking leaves, and there’s less chance you’ll get caught by the evening shift of mosquitoes.
Keep your lawn long
Brown, bare, weed-infested lawns are symptoms of scalping, which means cutting lawns too low. It’s a misconception that cutting lawns low reduces the cutting frequency. Instead, mow lawns as high as your mower permits. Longer turf wears better. Keep lawn lush by foliar feeding with seaweed tonic once monthly and applying one handful of poultry manure per square metre each season, before rain or irrigation. Allow two weeks for this to green your lawn – and for the odour to disappear before having a garden party!
Make sure your water stays flowing
Check that hoses and irrigation systems are free of leaks, and unblock the nozzles. Clear debris from gutters so that every shower funnels extra water into your rainwater tank. Use mosquito mesh to stop mosquitoes and frogs from entering tanks and pipes.
Do harder work in the cooler times
It’s safer, and you’re more likely to do a better job, if you complete hard work such as mowing in the cool of the day – either before 10am or after 4pm. A good drink of water and some sunscreen are prerequisites, because that one five-minute job often leads to another, and another. Sunscreen takes 15 minutes to create its protective layer, so use that time to plan your day in the garden. Don’t forget your hat and sunnies too. Save some light tasks, such as weeding or propagating, to complete in the comfort of a shady spot.
Use your time wisely
Sometimes it’s just not possible to do everything you want to do in the garden. If you’re short of time but like your garden to look cared for, some fresh mulch, a few strategically placed flowering plants and a freshly edged lawn will give your garden a lift. If you are wanting more precise garden care but unfortunately do not have the time to dedicate, Grey Army can help with its large list of qualified gardeners.